oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Tuck-shop purchasing practices of Grade 4 learners in Pietermaritzburg and childhood overweight and obesity : original research
Objectives: To determine the anthropometric characteristics of Grade 4 learners in relation to their tuck-shop purchasing practices.
Design: A cross-sectional research design using a questionnaire that was administered to Grade 4 learners.
Setting and subjects: Four well-resourced primary schools in Pietermaritzburg. The study included 311 Grade 4 learners.
Outcome measures: Body mass index interpreted in relation to tuck-shop purchasing practices.
Results: Fifty-six per cent of the sample were female (n = 173) and 44% were male (n = 138) learners. Twenty-seven per cent of the study sample was overweight (n = 83) and 27% was obese (n = 85). Eighty-six per cent of the learners (n = 266) made purchases from their school tuck shop. Twenty-two per cent did so at least three times per week (n = 58). Learners who bought from the tuck shop had a significantly higher body mass index compared to those who did not (p-value < 0.020). Learners who purchased from the tuck shop spent an average of R8.38 per day, a minimum of R1 and a maximum of R40 (± R5.39). The most popular reasons for visiting the tuck shop included: "This is my favourite thing to eat or drink" (66.5%, n = 177), and "I only have enough money to buy this item" (47%, n = 125).
Conclusion: Poor tuck-shop purchasing practices may contribute to the development of childhood overweight and obesity in learners. Successful preventative strategies should focus on restricting the amount of unhealthy items that are available for sale, imposing spending limits and motivating learners to prioritise healthy food and beverage purchases.
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